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Guatemala has more protected area than Costa Rica in sq miles.

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Situated west of the Izabal department, the Polochic River makes a delta as it empties into Lake Atitlán, creating a swamp with wildlife which is very well adapted to the area. In addition to manatees and sweet-water sharks, a great abundance and variety of birds congregates here, especially in migration season, making this is an excellent place for bird-watchers.

The drainage of Lake Izabal, in Amatique Bay, is a waterway of about 19 miles long (30 km.). At several points along the river there are hotels, airports, and facilities for docking vessels, and some very traditional Caribbean communities have first-class hotels. The Dulce River, a natural canyon with luxurious vegetation, is one of the most important places in the region.

This river of the Pacific basin is characterized by its curly course, cascades, and falls.

San Pedro
A tributary of the Usumacinta. This river belongs to the Gulf of Mexico basin.

Madre Vieja
The river has its source in the San Lucas Tolimán municipality, and it runs its course until reaching the Pacific Ocean.

Along the Motagua River, which is located in the Zacapa department, there are dispersed rapids, surprising geological formations, mineral deposits, the Ruins of Mixco Viejo, and vestiges of the Spanish colonial period. Because of its easy access from Guatemala City, the Motagua is the most popular river for trips of one or two days between June and November.

The Pasión River begins in the del Atlantic watershed and then joins the ríos Lacandón, Salinas, and Chixoy Rivers to later form the Usumacinta River. The Cancuen, Ceibal, Yaxilan ruins and others are in their shores, this river is considered the Amazonas of mesoamerica, a very especial expedition  for brave people..

The Chixoy River, also known río Negro, is part of the Northern or the Atlantic river basin. It splits the Cuchumatanes range in two, leaving the Cuchumatanes on the west, and the Alta Verapaz mountains on the east.

Stretching through the El Petén department and flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, the Usumacinta River drains a tropical jungle of 16,984 square miles (44,000 sq. km.). Wildlife includes caimans, iguanas, tapirs, toucans, jaguars, and howler and spider monkeys. Although calm in general, the river has some rapids and cascades.

The Cahabón River is situated in eastern Guatemala, near Lake Izabal. Challenging rapids abound in this turbulent river. Its canyons, covered in lush vegetation, provide spectacular contrast with waterfalls, hot springs, subterranean rivers, caves, the Quetzal Reserve, and the Ruins of Quiriguá. Excursions from three to five days can be taken at any time in the year.

The Naranjo is located in the San Marcos department. Highly exciting rafting is assured on the rapids of this river, and in the turbulent waters of the so-called Hueco Negro (Black Hole). Additionally, the route offers hot springs, falls, a dense jungle, Maya ruins in La Democracia and Takalik Abaj , and views of coffee, sugar cane, and rubber plantations. Trips can be planned for one or three days from June to November.

This river cuts through the exuberant El Petén Jungle. Its rapids are intermediate, and a trip on the Chiquibul is very stimulating. Sometimes the rare white-headed Arpia eagle can be seen flying high in the limestone canyons overhead. Trips of one, two, and three days, offered all year, are a chance to swim and explore trails to the distant Maya ruins: Yaxhá and Nakún.

The Azul River is very close to the borders of Mexico and Belize. In the dry season, blazing a trail from Tikal takes approximately five hours. Tikal peaked in the late Preclasic period (250 B.C. to 250 A.D.).


Without a doubt the most alluring physical feature in the department and one of the best known in Guatemala is Lake of Atitlán. Three volcanoes - San Pedro, Atitlán, and Tolimán - are just a part of the splendid natural features this gorgeous lake has to showcase it. With a surface area of 48 square miles (125 sq. km.), the lake sits 5,117 feet (1,560 meters) above sea level. Panoramic highways, lakeside towns, beaches, mountains, and volcanoes complement the beauty of this lake, which offers outstanding opportunities to fish, sail, water-ski, and enjoy nature-or to visit the Mayan villages in the area.

Izabal is situated in the department of the same name. This lake is the ideal spot to fish, ski, go diving, and do all types of water sports; or simply to enjoy the perfect place to rest, surrounded by wonderful scenery and cultural sites. The El Paraíso Ranch and Aguas Calientes falls are located near the lake's beaches.

Surrounded by dense vegetation, the area where the Rio Dulce widens is named iEl Golfete, and it is almost considered a lagoon.

Petén Itza
When the Spaniards arrived, the Maya had already been colonized by the i Itza, Indians of the Toltec-Maya group that occupied the territory around Lake Petén Itzá. The lake, surrounded by a virgin land of old ceibas and mahogany trees, is a great wildlife refuge. From the Cerro Cahuí Biotope Reserve, the only forest reserve on the shores of the lake, the animals of the region (small mammals and birds) can be observed. On one of the islands sits Flores, the capital of the Petén department.

Located 17 miles (27 km.) from Guatemala City on the inter-oceanic highway is Lake Amatitlán. The lake, with a surface area of almost six square miles (15 km.), is the physical feature which draws the most tourists in the Guatemala department. To appreciate the water and countryside close up, motorboats and rowboats are available around the shores of Lake Amatitlán.

The lake lies in the region of Sayaxché, Petexbatún. Because the region abounds in lakes, the biodiversity of its flora and fauna is notable. A dense, wide-leafed forest of very tall trees and thickets of various species from the piperaceae, arecaceae, polidiaceae, and palmae families provide a habitat thriving with species like jaguars, pumas, margays, howler monkeys, tapirs, etc.


Agua Volcano is located south of the city of Antigua. Agua, at 12,352 feet above sea level (3,765 m.), was called iHunapú by the Cakchiquel, but after the flood of September 10, 1541, the Spaniards named it Agua Volcano (Volcano of Water). Such a current of water came down from the crater that the city of Ciudad Vieja was inundated, killing many of the inhabitants, one of whom was Doña Beatriz de la Cueva, the wife of Pedro de Alvarado. Santa María de Jesús, in Sacatepéquez, provides access to the volcano. Agua offers a beautiful panorama of the Pacific and the Antigua Valley. There is also a shelter at the top.

Pacaya lies south of Lake Amatitlán, at the border of the Guatemala and Escuintlá departments. It is 8,364 feet high, or 2,550 meters. For more than 25 years it has been active, and its changing appearance is due to constant rock and lava explosions. There is also a secondary crater called Mackenney Peak which is continually active. The volcano can be approached from the town of San Francisco de Sales. Local guides are available who give tours of the volcano and, if necessary, carry the equipment. The volcano's main attraction is the chance it offers to witness volcanic activity close up.

San Pedro
San Pedro is located to the south of Lake Atitlán, in Sololá. It rises 9,905 feet above sea level (3,020 m.). San Pedro La Laguna, in Sololá, is the point of access to the volcano. Guided tours are available. An unlimited view of Lake Atitlán and neighboring volcanoes can be had from here.

Santa María
The Santa María lies south of the city of Quetzaltenango. At 12,372 feet (3,772 m.), this volcano is one of the hardest in Guatemala to climb, although the panorama seen from the top is worth the effort. Llanos del Pinal, near the city of Quetzaltenango, is the point of departure to the volcano. Pine forests on the sides of the volcano give way to scrublands and panoramic views of the Pacific, the Quetzaltenango valley, and nearby volcanoes at the top. The active Santiaguito Volcano (8,233 feet, or 2,510 m.) can also be seen, but because of toxic gases and steam clouds, walking down to it is not recommendable.

This volcano is located in Tajumulco, San Marcos. Tajumulco rises to an elevation of 13,842 feet (4,220 m.) above sea level. The volcano can reached from Tuichán village, in San Marcos. From Tajumulco, the highest peak in the nation and in Central America, the chain of volcanoes and the Pacific Ocean can be seen. It is advisable to hire a guide for a tour.

West of the city of Antigua, on the Sacatepéquez and Chimaltenango department border, lies the volcano named Acatenango. It stands 13,038 feet high (3,975 m.) and has two peaks: Pico Mayor (Highest Peak), with the aforementioned altitude of 13,038 feet and Yepocapa, also known as Tres Hermanas or Marías (Three Sisters or Marias), which is 12,726 feet high (3,880 meters). Acatenango is the twin of Fuego Volcano (Volcano of Fire). Jointly, these matching volcanoes are called La Horqueta. The volcano can be approached from Concepción Calderas or from Parcelamiento la Soledad, in Sacatepéquez. Only Acatenango Volcano has suitable campsites with panoramic views of Guatemala City and of the valley of Antigua. Fuego Volcano, which is active, can also be observed.

Fuego is located on the border of the Sacatepéquez and Chimaltenango departments, west of the city of Antigua. Fuego Volcano peaks at 12,343 feet (3,763 m.) above sea level. This currently active volcano is the twin of Acatenango (13,041 feet, or 3,976 m.). Together, these two volcanoes are known as La Horqueta. The volcano can be reached from Concepción Calderas or Parcelamiento la Soledad, in Sacatepéquez. No suitable campsites exist here.

Ipala is located in the municipality of the same name, in the Chiquimula department. This volcano is 5,412 feet (1,650 m.) high, and it has a deep green lagoon  in it's crater also named Ipala lagoon a fantastic place to discover. At the southern end is a small hill, Cerro Monterrico, with an altitude of 4,215 feet (1,285 m.). The town of Ipala is the starting point from which to approach the volcano and is just like going to the old west full of vaqueros.

This volcano lies within the municipalities of de Santa Catarina Mita and El Progreso in the department of Jutiapa. The most splendid volcano of the Guatemala in the waiting for discover range, it rises to a height of 6,698 feet (2,042 m.) above sea level. It has a small cone to the north, Cerro Mataltepe, which is 6,052 feet high (1,845 m.).

This volcano is located in the municipalities of Pueblo Nuevo Viñas, Taxisco and Chiquimulilla, in the Santa Rosa department. Tecuamburro, part of a chain of volcanoes, is made up of three interconnected hills: el Cerro Miraflores, at 6,373 feet (1,943 m.); Cerro Peña Blanca, with an elevation of 5,904 feet (1,800 m.); and the highest point, Cerro La Soledad, at 6,052 feet (1,845 m.) above sea level. On the sides of Cerro Peña Blanca are small sulfur fumaroles. The climb up it is recommended for the beauty of its forests.


Maya Biosphere Reserve
The Maya Biosphere Reserve, on the seventeenth parallel, covers approximately half of the El Petén department and is about the size of El Salvador, lies within the municipalities of de Flores, La Libertad, Melchor de Mencos, San Andrés y San José, en el departamento de El Petén. It has international borders with Mexico to the north and west, and with Belize to the east. The biosphere is divided into five types of zones: nucleus areas (national parks and biotope preserves), cultural areas, multi-use areas, recovering areas, and areas of reduced use. The flora and fauna are diverse. Old-growth forests, shrubs, and natural pastures make up the vegetation. In the rainy season, the río Escondido forms the largest sweet-water wetlands in Central America. Because of its size, the Maya Biosphere Reserve is an important refuge for large mammals such as white-tailed deer, tapirs, jaguars, pumas, spider monkeys, and howler monkeys; for smaller mammals like the coati, raccoon, paca, and countless rodents and bats; and for migratory and non migratory birds of prey, both very large ones and smaller ones. The reserve rests on what was once the location of the Classic Maya culture, and therefore it has an enormous amount of highly significant archaeological sites, like El Mirador, El Zotz, Piedras Negras, Tikal y Uaxactún. The archaeological sites and zones of the Maya culture lend historical and cultural weight to the reserve, and the size of the area allows for the genetic transmission of species which need a lot of space to live. Flores, the department capital of El Petén, is the point of entry. Hotels and all categories of lodging can be found in Flores, El Remate, on the shores of Lake Petén Itzá, and inside Tikal National Park. The Guatemalan Institute of Tourism, INGUAT, and various nongovernmental organizations work together to offer food, lodging, and guided tours at different points of the reserve (Uaxactún and Cruce dos Aguadas) and in their areas of reduced use (El Remate, Ixlú). These services are highly recommended because they offer the unique experience of close contact with the local communities and nature.

Sierra de las Minas Biosphere
The Sierra de las Minas Biosphere is located in the massif of the same name in the East, in the middle of the departments of El Progreso, Baja Verapaz, Alta Verapaz, Zacapa and Izabal. It is a mountainous region, ranging in altitude from 492 feet (150 m.) to over 9,840 feet (3,000 m.) above sea level. The size of the rain forest reserve, the largest in the country and one of the most important in the world, and its altitude variation allow for the inclusion of both tropical forests and coniferous forests within it. It is the principal source of water for the Motagua and Polochic Rivers, which empty into the Gulf of Honduras and Lake Izabal, respectively. Some of the trees found in the Sierra de las Minas are cedars, firs, oaks, pine trees, and liquidambars. Forest conservation has permitted large mammals (jaguars, pumas, deer) and endangered birds like the quetzal and the curassow to find a home here. Moreover, it is the only place in Guatemala in which the harpy eagle has been spotted in the last few years. Within its boundaries are communities of k'ekchí, pokomchí and ladino. The nucleus area of the reserve has two cabins with equipment reserved almost exclusively for scientific investigators. In Trinidad, near the village of Albores, there is a small inn which serves meals. A low tourist impact program is one of the plans in the works for the biosphere reserve in the near future.

Cerro Cahuí Biotope
El Petén department is on the eastern edge of Lake Petén Itzá, twenty miles (32 km.) from the city of Flores. Covering only 650 hectares, this is one of the smallest reserves in El Petén. One hill found here has heights from 360 to 985 feet (110 to 300 meters) above sea level, and the reserve has unique ecological characteristics due to its proximity to Lake Petén Itzá. The biotope sustains a rich variety of plants and animals present in the ecosystems of flooded areas, old-growth forests, and the lake shore. Because the area was partially exploited in the past and then allowed to recover, it is possible to study the recovery process of a tropical jungle. The biotope has two nature trails that lead to lookouts from which Lake Petén Itzá and its eastern basin can be viewed. A guidebook helps to identify species in the area and to understand the surrounding environment. There are restrooms and showers next to the lake as well as campsites and first-aid stations. In the near future, a bird-watching program will be set up with binoculars and guides for hire. In the area surrounding Cerro Cahuí there are several categories of hotels. A bed and breakfast option like La Casa de don David in nearby El Remate is an inexpensive and interesting lodging possibility.

Chocón Machacas Biotope
The Chocón Machacas Biotope is located in the Izabal department on the north shore of the Dulce River, in the area known as El Golfete. Old-growth forests on dry land, flooded forests, mangrove swamps, canals, and lagoons lie within its 7,600 hectares. The biotope encompasses estuary ecosystems which are the habitat of numerous plant species and aquatic animals. The red mangrove, the acutus crocodile, the manatee, and the otter are just some of the most remarkable species of the area. Particularly beautiful are the lagoons in the middle of mangrove swamps. Whether from the village of Río Dulce, Livingston o Puerto Barrios, water routes provide the only access to this area which forms a unit with Rio Dulce National Park. The two places are usually visited together. The biotope has three nature trails (two of them aquatic), an information center, campgrounds, and restrooms above Dulce River. Nearby Rio Dulce village and the port of Livingston offer hotels and restaurants of different categories. Declared a nature reserve in order to save the manatee, an endangered mammal, the estuary ecosystems here are a vital refuge for marine life.

Laguna del Tigre-Rio Escondido Biotope
In the northwest of the Petén department, in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, there is one of the remotest preserved areas in Guatemala. Comprising 46,300 hectares of forests and sweet-water wetlands, vegetation here is diverse and includes forests of tall timbers, although low-level forests predominate. Large mammals abound, especially white-tailed deer, and the flood lands are home to a variety of reptiles and birds. In the village of El Naranjo there are some lodging and dining establishments. Camping may be possible at the administration building, but authorization is required from the Center of Conservation Studies (Centro de Estudios Conservacionistas). Due to the fact that public trails do not exist yet, water travel in the area is recommended; boats can be rented in the village of El Naranjo. Within this biotope the largest sweet-water wetland region in all of Central America is preserved, and it gives refuge to a countless number of migratory and non migratory birds.

Punta de Manabique Biotope
Located in the Izabal department, in the Northeast of the nation, the biotope is a peninsula that separates the Amatique Bay and the Gulf of Honduras. Punta de Manabique has an area of 50,000 hectares, which includes land and sea. Diverse elements-coastal land, inland areas, flood lands, fresh water, sea water, and sea breezes-combine to give the peninsula unique characteristics. The region is particularly rich in marine life since it has coast both on the Bay of Amatique, whose environment is affected by the Dulce River, and on the Gulf of Honduras, which is influenced by the Antilles Sea. Endangered species like the tapir, jaguar, sea turtles, and mangrove trees all live within this area of considerable biological diversity. The marsh of the confras, of the Palmae family, is one of the most unusual ecosystems in Guatemala and exists only in this region. Bird and mammal species abound in the inland areas. Sole access to the biotope is by sea, either from Puerto Barrios or from Livingston. Although the area has no dining or lodging establishments yet, the trip through the Channel of the English and Graciosa Bay, which includes a swim at the Manabique village beach, ensures a pleasant day. In Manabique there are small shops which sell drinks and have public telephones, and Puerto Barrios and Livingston offer hotels and restaurants.

San Miguel-La Palotada Biotope
The San Miguel La Palotada Biotope is found next to Tikal National Park, and it forms part of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. A dense old-growth forest, which covers almost the whole area, has unique habitats and ecosystems. The Palmar Lagoon and other swampy areas are a sanctuary for many bird and reptile species as well as for the tapir and other large mammals. The bat colony in the caves in crags in the central area of the biotope provides a unique show at dusk when thousands of these mammals depart in unison to begin their nightly activities. This phenomenon gave the area its name: Zotz, which means bat in the majority of Mayan languages. From the Pyramid of the Devil, the cresting of the temples of Tikal. The area is difficult to get to in the rainy season. Campgrounds and cooking and bathing facilities can be found in the area. It is advisable to remain within the zones indicated by the park rangers to avoid getting lost in the woods.

Mario Dary Rivera Biotope
This biotope, known elsewhere as El Quetzal, is located in the municipality of Purulhá, in the Baja Verapaz department. Created with the purpose of protecting the Quetzal, Guatemala's national bird, the Mario Dary Rivera Biotope is one of the best-preserved rain forests in the country. It ranges over an area of slightly more than 1,000 hectares, and the mountains here, of up to 7,545 feet (2,300 m.), form the beginning of the mountain range known as the Sierra de las Minas. The vegetation is composed of conifers and wide-leafed trees; in addition, orchids, mosses, ferns, and bromeliads are abundant. In the early morning hours, this is one of the easiest places to watch the quetzal. A walk on the nature trails is highly educational, and one of the many things which can be learned about is the water cycle. Of the three nature trails in the area, one of them is designed for people with limited mobility. Other conveniences found here are an information station, a visitor center, a store, a cafeteria, toilets, showers, cooking facilities, and a house for investigators. This timber-covered area is an important source of water for the Salamá valley.

Monterrico and Hawaii
On the Pacific coast in the Santa Rosa department are the Monterrico Nature Reserve and the Hawaii National Park which, although they have different administrations, form a natural unit and possess the best-preserved mangrove forest on the Guatemalan Pacific coast. The Channel of Chiquimulilla, which crosses through both areas, is a wetland region providing shelter to migratory and non migratory birds. Its beauty is rare. The Palmilla Lagoon, close to the village of Monterrico, is an ideal place to watch birds. The mangrove forests are a haven for the green iguana (for which there is a reproduction program) and for other species of wildlife. For example, the beaches are nesting areas for two kinds of sea turtle, the parlama and the baule, especially in the months from May to September. In the Reserve as well as in the Park, there are programs which care for and help these turtles reproduce. Since the Pacific beaches are of volcanic origin, the sand is a dark gray color which makes them unusual and the tides are very high making this a great surfing destiny. The Hawaii National Park is an important stop for migratory birds, especially pelicans. In both areas, parts of mangrove forests remain in good condition, and the programs for sea turtles have had a positive impact on both species.

San Buenaventura de Atitlán
The San Buenaventura de Atitlán Nature Reserve occupies half of the San Buenaventura Valley in Panajachel, on the shores of Lake Atitlán, and it has a little over 100 hectares of forest. Its purpose is the conservation of the environment in the Lake Atitlán Basin. The reserve has achieved the planting of more than 180,000 trees in the valley of San Buenaventura; the installation of efficient stoves in neighboring communities; the recycling of waste; and the implantation of solar energy and biodigestors. Currently, there are nature trails with instructive signposts that, when used in conjunction with the 12-page brochure available in English and Spanish, help explain the surroundings. There is also a butterfly garden with over 7,590 cubic yards (5,625 cubic meters) of flying space; a laboratory for pupas and chrysalises which provides information about the life cycle of butterflies; more than 2,000 plants; and approximately 500 butterflies from some 25 native Guatemalan species. The butterfly garden teaches about the importance of these insects in nature and explores aspects of man's influence on their environment. The handling of butterfly colonies will allow the reintegration of species in the area. An orchid garden, located inside the butterfly garden, presently contains some fifty of the 500 orchid species in Guatemala. A bird refuge, which now has temporary visitor trails, will be further developed in the next two years. In order to feed and protect the birds, more than six hundred fruit trees and thousands of native plants with flowers and seeds will be planted. The refuge will be equipped with elevated platforms and trails as well as hanging bridges to be able to enjoy it with minimum disturbance of the inhabitants. This project is an attempt to attract migratory and non migratory birds, and at the same time, create an environment in which visitors and investigators can observe them without intrusion. The facilities include a visitor center with public restrooms, an area of shops and refreshments, open-air spaces, offices, and parking lots for cars and buses.

Lachuá National Park
In the northern Guatemalan lowlands in the northwest of the Alta Verapaz department, there is an area of 10,000 hectares of old-growth forest. The almost-untouched state of the forest has helped to protect reptiles, birds, mammals, amphibians, and highly valued tree species like the mahogany and sapodilla. This wooded area, one of the few remaining in the region, has an extremely fragile karstic soil originated by the dead of an ancient coral sea. The area's main attraction is the beauty of the lagoon, with its incredible blue-turquoise color and a great variety of fish. Although this circular-shaped lake has a surface area of less than two square miles, it goes down as deep as 720 feet. Large mammals like the tapir and the jaguar live here, as do migratory and non migratory birds. The park forms an important ecological corridor to and from the lowlands of the North. The entrance to the park is San Marcos village, 260 miles (414 km.) from Guatemala City. Facilities include toilets, bathrooms, camping, and information centers.

Rio Dulce National Park
The park is located in the Izabal department, between Lake Izabal and Amatique Bay. One of the first nature reserves in Guatemala (since 1955), the park's 7,200 hectares embrace aquatic ecosystems and mangrove estuaries. The canyon at the mouth of the river on the bay is uniquely beautiful because of its vegetation, and because it is a haven for many marine birds. This is habitat for the manatee, an endangered species, as well as for crocodile of the acutus species. The only way in is by water, either from the village of Río Dulce, the municipality of Livingston, or the department of Barrios. The village of Río Dulce and the port of Livingston have launches that tour the river and the canyon. At both locations various classes of lodging and dining are available. The park forms a unit with the Chocón Machacas Biotope Reserve, and visits to the two places are usually combined.

Tikal National Park
In the north of El Petén, 41 miles (65 km.) from the city of Flores, Tikal is part of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. Almost the whole area of the park, (57,600 hectares), is covered with old-growth forests of greatly varied plant life, including endangered species like the cedar and the mahogany. Tikal is not only a refuge for the majority of Guatemalan mammals, but also one of the easiest spots to observe them from. Spider monkeys and howler monkeys or zaraguates, are not hidden from the visitor, who with a little more luck can also see coatis, raccoons, and white-tailed deer, although encounters with pumas and jaguars are improbable in areas open to the public. More than three hundred species of birds have been studied in the park, ranging from hummingbirds to enormous birds of prey. Reptiles are also abundant; especially snakes. Interest in the area centers around the blending of nature with the archaeological remains of the ancient city. Tikal was perhaps the most important Maya urban center in its time. The park is reached by a forty-mile (65 km.) asphalt highway from the city of Flores, and small tour buses and other buses travel the route regularly. The facilities and services of Tikal are among the best of the reserves. There are two museums, nature trails, guided tours, restrooms, campgrounds, hotels, a restaurant, and souvenir shops. One of the first reserves in Guatemala, it is the only place in the world named World Cultural Heritage Site and World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Lake Atitlan Area
This area spans 17 municipalities in the Lake Atitlan basin, in the Sololá department. Lake Atitlan, i the most beautiful lake in the world, according to Aldous Huxley, lies here at 5,120 feet (1,562 m.) above sea level. It has a surface area of 50 square miles (130 km.), and in its basin are three volcanoes: c000080Atitlán (11,595 feet or 3,535 m. above sea level); San Pedro (9,906 feet or 3,020 m. high); and c000080Tolimán (10,342 feet or 3,153 m.). The cones of these volcanoes shelter native species of high-scientific value as well as other endangered species such as the pavo de cacho (horned turkey). Also inhabiting the cones are species like the trogon and the spider monkey. The woodlands of the basin consist of forests of wide-leafed trees, coniferous forests, and mixed forests. The lake was formed by a volcanic crater about half a mile deep that collected water and was filled with sediment. Atitlán is another of the most culturally diverse regions in Mesoamerica, and the inhabitants keep their culture alive. Panajachel is the village with the most services for the visitor. It has banks, numerous hotels and restaurants of all kinds, and mail and telegraph services. San Antonio Palopó, Santiago Atitlán, San Pedro la Laguna, and San Juan la Laguna have similar services on a smaller scale. The lake has no visible external drainage, which makes it the only closed hydrographic basin in the nation. It is also the nation's second-largest body of fresh water after Lake Izabal.

Cuchumatanes Area
Lying mainly in the Huehuetenango department, a small part of the Cuchumatanes area extends to El Quiché. Although it has yet to be officially declared, by law this is a specially reserved area. Within its approximately 350,000 hectares lies the highest massif in Central America which bestows great natural beauty upon the area. The latitude, altitude, coniferous forests, and natural pasturelands here form Andean ecosystems with native species that exist only in this part of the continent. At the same time, the Sierra de Los Cuchumatanes is a region of significant cultural diversity whose four groups of Mayan peoples maintain their traditional ways of life. The city of Huehuetenango has a variety of hotels and restaurants as well as telephones, mail service, telegraphs, and banks. Scenery and ecosystems exist here which are unique in Central America.

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